Academic Regulations & Procedures
Satisfactory Academic Progress
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is a requirement for all Carleton students. Federal regulations require all schools participating in state and federal aid programs to monitor SAP; to be eligible for federal, state, and institutional aid, students are required to maintain satisfactory academic progress toward their degree. Carleton expects all students to maintain an acceptable level of academic progress; therefore, this policy applies to all matriculated students.
Measurements of Satisfactory Academic Progress
Satisfactory Academic Progress is measured both quantitatively and qualitatively at the end of each academic term to ensure students are making satisfactory progress toward the degree. Carleton considers academic progress slightly differently than it considers financial aid; therefore it is important to know that students may still be financially responsible for courses or terms that were not completed (i.e. courses recorded with DRP) or courses the student did not pass. After the one-week drop/add deadline, a late drop results in a grade notation of “DRP” on the transcript and is identified as “course dropped after the normal drop/add period without penalty.” Carleton does not use withdrawal-passing or withdrawal-failing notations.
When calculating aid eligibility, all enrolled terms must be considered in determination of Satisfactory Academic Progress, including enrolled terms for which the student did not receive course credit(s). This includes medical leaves of absence when begun during a term. When calculating academic eligibility, all full-time terms must be considered in determination of Satisfactory Academic Progress, including enrolled terms for which the student did not receive aid.
Students are required to pass enough credits (quantitative measure), maintain a minimum GPA (qualitative measure), and complete their programs within a maximum time frame to be considered making satisfactory progress toward their degree. Students must meet the following standards to maintain satisfactory academic progress:
- Qualitative (Grade Point Average) – All students are required to meet the minimum cumulative and term grade point averages (GPA) shown on the chart below. A normal rate of progress is considered to be 17 or 18 credits per term, although it is understood that occasionally a lighter load may be appropriate because certain courses or terms may prove to be especially difficult. To earn the 210 credits required for graduation, students must average 17 or 18 credits per term in each of the 12 terms allotted them. A student’s GPA is calculated by multiplying the numerical equivalent to the letter grade earned in each course by the total number of credits for the course. The sum for each course is added together and then divided by the total credits for the term. Example: a student enrolls in 18 credits (3 courses, 6 credits each) and receives two As (4 points each) and a B (3 points). The calculation would be (6*4)+(6*4)+(6*3) / 18 = 3.67 term GPA. All grades earned in Carleton courses count in the calculation, with the exception of satisfactory/credit/no-credit courses.
- Quantitative (Pace – Cumulative Overall Progress) – All courses, whether or not they are successfully completed, count in calculating a student’s academic progress for aid eligibility purposes; this includes individual courses for which a student received a DRP and medical leaves, which generally result in an entire term’s courses being recorded with a DRP. For the purposes of end-of-term Academic Review and counting academic terms in attendance only, medical leaves will not be taken into consideration. Any student who fails to register for a minimum of twelve credits and attend classes prior to the end of the first week of the term may be withdrawn from the College. Carleton students are not permitted to drop below full-time status (12 credits), which means that a student registered for a 17- or 18-credit load cannot drop more than one 6-credit course per term. If a student chooses to enroll less than full-time, the student would subsequently need to withdraw or take a leave of absence.
All students are required to meet the minimum earned credits shown on the chart below.
Terms in Residence
|Minimum Earned Credits
|Terms in Residence
|Minimum Earned Credits
|Terms in Residence
|Minimum Earned Credits
|Terms in Residence
|Minimum Earned Credits
Earning a D+, D, D-, F, CR, or NC can jeopardize cumulative overall progress; therefore students earning these grades will be evaluated for qualitative and quantitative progress, even if the receipt of these grades does not lower the GPA or credits earned to below the minimum threshold.
Registration errors which result in grades of F may only be corrected through successful student petition to the Academic Standing Committee.
Carleton College does not offer noncredit remedial courses.
In the cases of a retaken course, both the original course and the retaken course will count as attempted credits; however, only the retake will count in the student’s GPA and be considered when considering SAP for the current term. Grade points and credits earned in the original attempt will be replaced by those earned in the second attempt in the cumulative GPA, even when fewer or none are earned in the second attempt. Additional academic credit will be obtained only when none was earned in the first attempt.
Monitoring Satisfactory Academic Progress
Satisfactory Academic Progress is monitored at the end of each term during Academic Review, held by the Academic Standing Committee, who determine whether students who do not meet SAP conditions will be placed on academic review. In all cases, the committee considers individual circumstances in deciding upon the review status of the student. All students are subject to academic review. The review occurs within 2 weeks after the term ends. Students are notified by email within 24 hours after the review if they are categorized in one of the categories listed below. Students who will be suspended or dismissed from the College receive individual communication (e.g., a phone call, an email, etc.) from the Dean of Students Office prior to the email notification.
Academic Review consists of the following categories:
- No Action: The student is below the required standard in some qualitative or quantitative measure but the difference is considered to have no impact on the student’s satisfactory academic progress.
- Letter of Concern: The student is below the required standard in some qualitative and/or quantitative measure (e.g., low grades, insufficient number of earned credits, decline in grade point average, problems in the major, etc.) and is contacted by the Academic Standing Committee regarding the concern. There are no conditions placed on the student regarding their future performance, but the student’s academic adviser is informed and the student’s record will be reviewed in the subsequent term regardless of that term’s performance. Students are also asked to speak with their Class Dean regarding the situation. This is considered a financial aid warning.
- Academic Review: The student is below the required standard in some qualitative and/or quantitative measure (e.g., low grades, insufficient number of earned credits, decline in grade point average, problems in the major, etc.) and is contacted by the Academic Standing Committee regarding the concern. There are both quantitative and qualitative conditions placed on the student regarding their future performance (e.g., take and pass 18 credits, grades of C or better, prepare and follow an academic plan, attend class regularly, earn summer school credits, etc.), the student’s academic adviser is informed, and the student’s record will be reviewed in the subsequent term. If the student meets the conditions of their review, they are normally taken off review and resume regular status. If the student does not meet review conditions, they may remain on review, be suspended from the College or, in some rare cases, be dismissed from the College. A student placed on academic review will be contacted by the Student Financial Aid Office to inform them of the process required for them to maintain their financial aid status, known as “the appeal process.” The list of students will be generated by the Registrar’s Office. Students who have a successful appeal will be on financial aid probation.
- Suspension: Students who have demonstrated a repeated inability to maintain required quantitative or qualitative progress, or whose record indicates a precipitous decline regardless of their overall record, may be suspended from the College. Suspended students must ordinarily spend two terms away from the College to address the issues that have been impeding their academic performance, and may petition the Academic Standing Committee for readmission. Students are readmitted from suspension on academic review.
- Dismissal: A student not maintaining a level of progress toward the degree at the minimal rate may be dismissed from the College.
Note: Financial aid corresponds to the student’s enrollment status and continues for eligible students as long as they are enrolled in most cases. When a student is suspended or dismissed from the College, financial aid is discontinued. Aid is reinstated or awarded to eligible students upon re-enrollment.
Students who received a Letter of Concern or beyond will have their records reviewed in the subsequent term. At the end of the next term, the committee may take a student off review status, send a letter of continued concern, or place/continue the student on review. If the student’s record has remained at an unacceptable level or has deteriorated, or demonstrates a precipitous decline, or if the student has not met the requirements set by the committee, or if it is apparent that the student will not be able to fulfill the requirements of a major or graduation within the terms remaining, the committee may suspend or dismiss the student from the College.
In general, being placed on review is not subject to appeal. The only cases where students may appeal their review status are when their enrollment has been suspended or revoked. For an appeal to be considered it must be received no later than two days after the student has been notified of their review status. The appeal will be reviewed by the Academic Standing Committee. The Academic Standing Committee assesses each appeal individually with special attention given to past academic performance, current academic performance, the student’s path toward successful degree completion, and the appropriate supporting documentation. Supporting documentation may include reports from instructors of classes in which the student struggled, and explanations of special circumstances, such as injury or illness or the death of a relative. The appeal and supporting documentation should explain why the student has failed to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress and the changes that have been made that will allow the student to meet the standards during the next evaluation.
Grade Changes and Extensions
Once a grade has been reported it becomes part of the student’s permanent record and can be changed only by the faculty member and with the approval of the Academic Standing Committee (ASC). Registration errors which result in grades of F may only be corrected through successful student petition to the ASC. Students have one year after a grade is earned to appeal the letter grade.
If a grade is not submitted by the grade submission deadline, the Registrar’s Office will assign a grade of X and the faculty member will need to follow the grade change process to update the student’s grade. An X is not considered an incomplete for the student because the student has successfully completed the work to earn the grade, but is awaiting the faculty review. Work may extend beyond the end of the exam schedule only if an EXT, EX1, or EX3 (three different versions of formally approved extensions) has been approved by an Associate Dean of Students or an Associate Provost. If students do not complete course work by the end of the extension period, faculty should submit the grade a student would have earned at the time the extension was granted.
Courses Taken in Summer
Carleton-led summer off-campus study (OCS) programs follow the same standards and policies as on-campus courses taken during the regular academic year and are counted as an academic term in residence. If a student takes a summer off-campus study program, they must take a required leave of absence during the subsequent academic year, most often during winter term. Students may petition the Academic Standing Committee to request that their leave be taken during the fall or spring term, though these petitions are usually only granted in cases of legitimate scheduling conflicts. Required leaves must be taken during the same academic year as the summer OCS program.
Courses transferred to Carleton, including non-Carleton OCS programs, do not count in the student’s GPA, but will be used toward graduation and the student’s quantitative progress toward degree. Transfer students will be matriculated into the appropriate “term” according to the credits that are approved to transfer and will be expected to maintain satisfactory academic progress according to the chart above upon enrollment.
For transfer students, a maximum of 102 credits may be transferred and applied to the requirements of the Carleton degree. Grades for transferred courses are not posted on the Carleton transcript. Students must spend at least two years (six terms) in residence, including the senior year (last three terms).
Maximum Time Frame to Complete the Program
Satisfactory Academic Progress includes a maximum time frame component that specifies that students may not receive federal aid in excess of 150% of the credits required to complete the degree. Carleton requires a minimum of 210 credits for graduation, and normally students are expected to fulfill all graduation requirements in four years or the equivalent of twelve academic terms. No additional time is granted for changes to the major or to complete requirements beyond the minimum graduation requirements; no additional time will be awarded for a student to complete two majors, nor may a student complete a second major out of residence. Under special circumstances, if additional time is necessary for a student to complete minimal degree requirements, an extension of student status beyond 12 terms may be granted by the Academic Standing Committee (ASC). The Committee may also authorize the extension of financial aid to eligible students at the same time. Generally, no more than 13 terms of enrollment will be authorized.
For most students, the maximum is considered to be 315 awarded credits and 12 terms (4 years) of enrollment. In all cases, the ASC determines which students are required to return to Carleton to complete their degree and which students are required to complete their work elsewhere. Normally, the student who begins their 12th and final term at Carleton without being theoretically able to complete the degree should be prepared to complete the remaining work at another institution following the current regulation for transfer of credit.
See also withdrawal/term amnesty.
Last Revised: October 25, 2023
Last Reviewed: October 30, 2023
Maintained by: Office of the Provost